“My religion is very simple.
My religion is kindness.”
A patient recently shared with me the difficulties he was having relating with his mother. There were parts of her—certain behaviors and attitudes of hers—that he was having difficulty accepting. He recognized that those qualities in her were not going to change. She is in her 80’s and pretty much who she will always be.
But something radical did change. He accepted who she was. And in so doing, he experienced his own kindness. This became more important to him than how his mother behaved.
Kindness is something I have contemplated lately. I’ve been noticing the connection between how kind I am and how I feel about myself. I believe the degree to which I am kind strongly influences my level of self-esteem. And when I am being kind to others, I am also kinder to myself.
In a recent video I watched, called “Solace,” Ondrea Levine said, “Kindness is the greatest religion.” I agree. And I believe that it was in her husband’s best selling book, “Who Dies?” that Stephen Levine wrote, “The images to hold in our minds as we are dying are the images of when we were most kind.” So, having a plentiful store of our own acts of kindness might help us comfortably and gracefully move on when our time comes.
One of my earliest memories of being kind relates to a mouse in the laundry. Many years ago while doing the laundry, I found a tiny little mouse curled up in a pile of clothes. He could barely move, he was dehydrated and dying. I carried him outside and put a little capful of water in front of him. He drank and drank and drank and then moved himself slowly off into the woods. I learned something from him. Even the smallest acts of kindness make me feel good about myself.